Summer Skin Hacks
Summertime skin issues can range from dry skin, sunburns, acne, candida/fungal infections, rashes and eczema, to wound-management as more bare skin is exposed.
Read on for tips on preventive care measures and my hacks for healing wounds and other common skin issues. I include some of my favourite brands - including sunscreen, UV-repair lotion and antibacterial and anti-fungal treatments.
1) Hydrate with plenty of filtered water daily (see my electrolyte recommendations here - important if you are sweating a lot or suffering from diarrhea) - especially if dry skin or on hot summer days. Hydration is an essential part of supporting your body's natural detoxification function. Make sure you are drinking enough that you are urinating as often as usual (normal ranges are from 4-10 times per day).
Drink water that is free from chlorine (which can disrupt thyroid function) and heavy metals (which build toxicity in your body and are hard to remove). Choose alkaline water that has minerals in it - reverse osmosis water does not typically have the minerals that are present in natural spring water. Some filtration systems re-mineralize water.
Do you use plastic containers to store/drink your water? Wherever possible, aim to use water that is not stored for long times or at high heat in plastics. Plastics contain endocrine disrupting chemicals (even if "BPA-free") that can negatively affect your hormones! Opt for glass or stainless steel storage containers - and clean them often!
2) Vitamin C (try broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, strawberries, kiwis, rosehip tea) - supports collagen formation and capillary strength - oral intake supports smoother skin with less bruising/varicosities, faster wound healing and has antihistamine properties for allergies/asthma/sinusitis. Note that oral intake amounts reach maximum absorption in the blood and other immune cells at doses under 500mg. Taking higher doses can have a laxative effect (which is sometimes desirable) and all excess vitamin C that is not absorbed will be excreted. Your body may require higher doses of vitamin C when immune function is lower.
Topically, applying vitamin C pre-sun exposure may be able to protect against sun (UV) damage and replenish vitamin E - I'm experimenting with "Vitamin C & Seabuckthorn lotion" by Now as a before and after sun regime - it's lightweight despite the shea butter. Look for it at your local health food store.
Read more about studies on the use of topical vitamin C here. Note some research suggests vitamin C at high concentrations has an anti-pigment effect.
3) Sunblock/sunscreen is key to skin health long term - but finding something that isn't toxic to your body is also important, since your skin absorbs what you put on it! Read the Environmental Working Group's top 10 ingredients to avoid in skincare and tips for sun-care - including avoiding aerosolized titanium dioxide.
I've tried quite a few zinc-based sunblocks, and most are pretty chalky - most recently, I've been using Green Beaver's "Mineral Sunscreen SPF 27 spray" (the kids version seems identical) and finding myself much more willing to apply it often as it's not chalky! Always test a new sunblock carefully and reapply often! Lower SPF numbers like this product are safe, as long as you know how frequently you need to reapply it (a calculation based on how many minutes you can spend with bare skin outside before getting burned - multiplied by the SPF number)
My favourite sunblock method is actually covering up with long, breathable, lightweight layers (also great for tick prevention!)
1) Wounds: my favourite wound-care, for big or small, is MediHoney's Wound Gel. I have some available for purchase in clinic, or you can take a look online. It uses the natural antibacterial properties of medical-grade honey (made from Leptospermum flowers - including tea tree and manuka, irradiated for safety) - it has been proven quite effective against MRSA infections too! I like this as a natural antibacterial that does not contribute to bacterial resistance.
2) Sunburns: my go-to for sunburns is aloe vera. Look for a product that is 100% aloe, or has aloe as the first ingredient. These tend to be more expensive, but this is the best ingredient! The vitamin C lotion above has aloe as a second ingredient - not bad as an added bonus. For closed burn blisters, apply ice immediately to cool the skin, then you can try a few drops of lavender essential oil. If skin is charring or blistering, please seek medical attention!
3) Anti-fungal support: candida yeast often appears as beefy red rashes that are itchy (usually in dark/moist areas like armpits, groin or under breasts) while other fungal infections may have a mottled skin appearance. Start by exposing the area to sun and dry it out - wear loose, breathable clothing made from natural materials! You can apply coconut oil mixed with a few drops of tea tree oil (both anti-fungal). Or try St. John's Wort oil (St. Francis makes a product) applied in the evening (avoid sun exposure after applying) - this is particularly good for malassezia yeast. Fungus is stubborn! Sometimes, the skin symptoms are a manifestation of a systemic yeast issue. If you have chronic yeast infections that are not responding to antifungal treatments, it might not be yeast at all, but an overgrowth of lactobacilli that can mimic a yeast infection - and benefit from baths/rinses with warm water and baking soda!
4) Eczema: while this requires a deeper dive into triggers, managing itchy skin acutely is important too. Eczema is an issue involving a poor skin barrier (typically related to poor gut health) and so it can flare in weather extremes - cold/dry or heat/moisture. In summer, keep skin cool and dry with lightweight breathable clothing. Soothing lightweight oat-based lotions may be helpful, but you may not benefit from more moisture in humid summer weather - it may be best to avoid lotions/creams with wax or petroleum bases in the summer.
As always, this blog is informational only and not intended as medical advice. Please seek out the support of a medical professional regarding your health concerns.